Two of the wheels of a railway tank which came ashore during WW2

Documentary on TG4 ''Fear an Tank'

Paddy Crowe

Two of the wheels of a railway tank
Paddy Crowe

Inis Oirr

Inis Oir is the smallest of the Aran Islands, measuring about two miles by three miles. From a maritime history perspective, it is best known for the wreck of the Plassy, the “Fr Ted” ship which features in the opening sequence of each episode of that series.


During the Second World War, wreckage from ships which were lost in the Battle of the Atlantic was washed up on western shores. In this particular case, a railway tank wagon (intended to contain a liquid such as water or petrol) came ashore.


When it was opened, it was found to contain a corpse! We do not know who he was. Locally he was dubbed “Fear an Tanc” or the “man of the tank”. He was buried in the local cemetery, which is the site of the ruined monastery of Saint Kevin. This page is a summary of what is known and speculation of what remains unknown.


These notes were prompted by Aenghus Geoghegan of Snag Breac Films who was making a documentary on this subject for TG4. Mark McShane, author of Neutral Shores, did considerable research in the archives at Kew, establishing details, such as: Jessmore was the ship which sank. When we went to the island, the people there were extremely helpful, in particular Paddy Crowe, the Co-op chairman; also Michael Ó Conghaile (bike hire) and Ned of Teach Ned. While almost all on the island were very helpful.

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This page was added on 18/04/2020.

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